Joshi Spotlight: AJW Super Hurricane ’94

* Here’s another named AJW show, hailing from the Sendai Miyagi-ken Sports Center! Tonight is actually more of a return to form after several All-AJW shows in a row, as we see LLPW’s wrestlers back into the mix, with three Interpromotional matches (including a rarity tag match), plus Manami/Kyoko vs. Bull/Sakie, as Sakie Hasegawa is put in a match with AJW Main Eventers yet again! Oh, they knew what they were doing. This arena looks CRAZY-empty, especially at the start of the set. As usual, this one is split up on an ancient YouTube set. You can find it all here:

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Three “Dream Match” interpromotional bouts and some of AJW’s best wrestlers put their “Main Event Effort” into things. Mima Shimoda showcases her new drive, Kandori’s her arrogant best, and Bull Nakano takes on AJW’s fastest workers.

* Rie’s “this is the new rookie getting some attention” thing continues with a match against ASARI. Tamada’s in white & red, with ASARI in red- far less showy than the gear she’d been using before.

Rie controls to start with leg stuff, then ASARI works her arm. They each do a million restholds until Rie bends ASARI in a SICK Liontamer. ASARI flips onto her feet from a slingshot and hits jumping knees for two. ASARI hits a Cartwheel Handspring Mule Kick, but misses the second. Rie gets fired up and shoots off Dropkick Spam… and gets the pin with a standing back body drop (8:34)! Wait- she WON!?! This was such a surprise I actually checked Cagematch to double-check their “tiers”, and sure enough- ASARI beats her like a drum this year, winning 17-5 in their singles matches as the two wrestled on nearly every damn card AJW had in 1994! Looks like she just kinda gets de-pushed for ’94 after a hot ’93, perhaps because she messed up moves in big matches or something? I dunno.

This was just “let’s lie around in holds until it’s time for the last couple minutes we prepared for”. Rie being able to hang and get so much offense speaks well for what AJW thinks of her… and then she WINS, which totally shocked me, as I was seeing ASARI do better as time went on last year!

Rating: * (just boring holds until the last bit, then Tamada hits a million dropkicks and wins with a back body drop of all things)

* Interestingly, last show saw Takako & Ito kill each other, and now they’re a team. Kinda similar tiers here, with Minami & Takako being elite midcarders while the other two are rising rookies. Minami’s in a cool red & black version of her “leotard” gear, Tomoko’s in green & purple, Takako’s in white & grey, and Ito’s yellow Peter Pan this week.

haha, awesome- Takako & Ito go “full shitass” to start, just bashing their opponents in the aisle, throwing them though the empty sea of chairs, and bury them under a pile- Ito jumping up and down on it. The ref just rings the bell mid-beating, and the victims casually run to the ring with blank expressions, not even mad. The heels beat the bejeezus out of Minami, locking her in a painful tree of woe and then doing the damndest Tombstone ever, Takako holding her in position for Ito’s boots and a dropkick, then adding her own knee shots before landing the move! Minami finally reverses on Ito and they pay their opponents back for all that chair shit by adding their own beating outside, then settle into a pedestrian wearing-down of Ito, who finally uses the ass to come back, hitting her Corner Senton for two on Tomoko. Takako adds in an armada of restholds after that.

Takako hits a good lariat for two, but Tomoko FINALLY hits a slingshot cross-body for the same. Judo Flips! Minami hits a ton of standing dropkicks (… that might be the only time I’ve ever seen that in joshi- EVERYONE runs for those!), but Takako reverses a powerbomb for two. Takako’s shoulder-mounted backdrop gets reversed for the same. Takako catches her with a super armdrag, but Tomoko’s weird rana on Ito gets two. Lariat misses and Ito hits a HUGE German for two. Stomp Spam and a senton get two- everyone reverses Flying moves until Ito hits a Flying Stomp for two. Minami reverses the momentum by flying off onto both opponents, then hits a Kneeling Powerbomb on Takako for two. Another one gets the three (17:23).

hooooooooo boy- hot start, decent finish, and TEN MINUTES of “lie around in holds” between them. The “Lazy AJW Match” special. Takako barely took any offense at all before falling to two of Minami’s set-up moves. And the meat of the match was mostly the two juniors doing their stuff.

Rating: ** (some good stuff, but a combo of “too long” and “too lazy” hurts it)

* Handa is often “another warm body” in LLPW interpromotional appearances, having some credibility but neither adding nor detracting to the festivities. She can hang, at least. This is interesting because it’s kinda anyone’s ballgame- Shimoda’s not that top-tier as a singles, and the AJW Title is on the line and that would add drama to these shows if an LLPW girl won it. But as the next two Interpromotional bouts look like LLPW victories, maybe not. Handa’s wearing a bizarre leotard with black straps surrounding a field of orange & yellow flowers, while Shimoda’s in black & gold with tassels.

Shimoda attacks to start like a good demon, but Handa reverses to a bridging German immediately, for two. They tear about the ring, stymying each other’s stuff, but Shimoda slows it down and stomps the hands. She works the hair, the throat, and the arm, then stomps away, stopping to pose like “is that it, then?”, so Handa hops up and slugs it out with her. Running attacks and Moolah Whips away, then a bridging fallaway slam gets two. Handa’s crab & bow and arrow lead to repeating Shimoda’s nasty shit back on her for revenge for a few minutes, ending with a Perfect Plex for two. Shimoda comes back with like seven piledrivers in a row, getting two Because Joshi. Sleepers & another piledriver get two, but Handa comes back with clotheslines before getting hooked with one of Shimoda’s. Another and a flying version get two. Another choke, but Shimoda eats a German for two. Flying Back Elbow, but Shimoda gets the feet up and hits a suicide dive and missile dropkick for two.

Handa avoids a Tiger Suplex, dumps her, and hits a plancha- Shimoda yanks away at her and climbs, but a Butterfly Superplex hits her for two. Shimoda gets a rollup, but takes another German for two. She attempts a suplex but Handa reverses and hits a release German, but misses a missile kick and the two reverse pins on each other. Shimoda’s flying splash hits feet and a FOURTH Bridging German gets two. Shimoda spikes her with a German in return, reversing a lariat- Butterfly Superduperplex gets two! She tries a whip, but Handa swipes the Tiger Suplex- two! That was CLOSE and the fans definitely reacted. Handa climbs, and Shimoda tries for the Death Lake Driver (Tiger Superplex), but Handa knocks her off and tries that Flying Back Elbow again- it misses! Tiger Suplex gets two! That puts the fight out of Handa, and she’s done- an ugly-ass Death Lake Driver (more like pulling her off the top rope onto her side) gets the three at (19:37). Big reaction for that.

This ended up being a pretty solid scrap, with a bit of miscommunication-looking stuff in the first half, but with Shimoda matches that just kind of makes them look more vicious. They fought over EVERYTHING, with nobody getting much of a sequence with the other person halting them and trying to reverse or just pull the hair or whatever. There was a bunch of resting, but enough revenge spots and that crazy “piledrivers don’t mean shit in joshi” bit to pull things out. Handa seemed to base most of her late-game offense off of German Suplexes, leading to a lot of same-y moves instead of more varied stuff, but the finish built particularly well, with Shimoda taking more and more punishment until fans were buying a title change. Swiping each other’s moves was a pretty cool way to lead to the finish, but the finale looked pretty weak and ineffectual (though really, how do you TIGER SUPERPLEX someone without killing them half the time?).

Rating: ***1/2 (was looking “pretty decent” then kinda “sloppy” and cycled all the way back to “kick-ass match” in the end- filling 19 minutes with two midcard wrestlers would normally be a rest-fest, but these two are the real deal)

* I 100% predict AJW is getting sacrificed here, as Eagle is one of two LLPW wrestlers that the company actually bothers to protect in these things, and Handa just lost. Eagle’s ring gear includes that AMAZING giant red frill going around her dress, and she’s in the one-legged pink, red & black gear as usual. Mita’s in the gold & black two-piece. She makes sure to stand defiantly right in front of Eagle, showing off her greater height, though Eagle has the mass advantage.

Mita struggles mightily in a test of strength, but gets thumped down a couple times and they go right into restholds. Mita bites her way free of a sleeper and actually manages a full hair-whip of Eagle- not bad. She just stays on the hair repeatedly, then goes to the fingers, stamping on them and then going to leg stuff as they stay on the mat. Eagle’s selling this well, at least- hollering whenever Mita adds extra pressure in a figure-four or leglock. Mita even drapes the knee over the guardrail and stands on it out THERE. Chairshots to the knee! It’s too bad the pace has been listless, because that should have been heated. Eagle finally makes a comeback after more holds with a backbreaker and body attack. She preps the Vader Bomb, but Mita just shoves her off the top and hits a dive! Electric Chair Drop (with some SERIOUS fighting to get her up there) for two.

Mita hits knees going off the top and eats a big lariat to the back of the head. Dropkick off the second rope gets two, and Mita keeps trying to reverse stuff to a German but can’t get it, and has to stuff a powerbomb. Standing Rock Bottom gets two, but a Vader Bomb misses and Mita FINALLY gets that German- an ugly-ass one- for two. Eagle’s just not athletic enough for that- Aja’s bigger than her and can still fly all the way back for suplexes. Mita tries the DVD, but Eagle switches to a Powerbomb- Mita lands on her feet and hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Eagle stuffs the DVD again and hits a lariat for two, Mita reverses a powerbomb and eats ANOTHER lariat, and Eagle finishes with a Kneeling Powerbomb at (15:41). No false finishes at all, really.

Well that was weird. The entire bout was wrestled at half-speed, but at least the application and selling were done well. But the guaranteed way to kill a crowd for joshi is to just sit around in holds like this, even if Mita had some good facial expressions. Like, you could see guys just sitting there with their arms crossed until it was time to actually start hitting “real” moves again. Once they started trading moves it was pretty solid, though Eagle just couldn’t go up for stuff like Aja could- she’s more “BBW” than “Fat Monster”, but just doesn’t seem to be willing to jump that high in cards like this, so Mita has to haul her into these little messy suplexes. The finishing sequence was pretty pedestrian, too, just trading finisher attempts and Eagle hitting basic lariats.

Rating: **1/2 (fine in parts, but just a very poorly-planned match without a hot finish)

* Toyota & Inoue are teamed up again, oddly, as the top two “Workrate Stars” in the company, and they’re up against the former Ace and the future Ace (well, that one didn’t work out, but she coulda!). This seems on the surface to be yet another “Put Sakie against Main Eventers so fans will be ready to accept her rise!” match, and with this talent level, it’s a ****+ match if they go “Big Match Mode”, and ***+ if they’re not. Kyoko’s peppy interview beforehand leads to Toyota doing some kinda catchphrasey thing, and she’s of course barely able to keep it together. Sakie’s in the rainbow singlet, Bull’s in a brown/red fire shirt, Manami’s in black, and Kyoko’s in pink & yellow. Kyoko & Bull are the only two to get big reactions to start, oddly.

Bull & Sakie jump Kyoko to start, but she leads them on her “corner chase” around the ring, luring them right into Toyota’s double missile dropkick! HELL YES THEY’RE PUTTING IN EFFORT TONIGHT! Sakie slaps them around a bit then tries the “luring” trick, too, but Bull causes them to halt in their tracks in a funny spot. Sakie sneaks around and double-bulldogs them anyways. Bull completely slaughters Manami with a lariat, then hits a piledriver for two and they switch off with holds on her. Manami hits a pop-up dropkick so Kyoko can land Mongolian Chops & just LAUNCH Sakie with a snap-fallaway slam off the ropes. Slingshot Backsplash & Rock the Cradle! Dancing Deathlock gets the crowd into it, too! HUGE Manami dropkick wows the crowd and a delayed butterfly suplex gets two, but Sakie escapes and Bull hits the lariats while her leg’s tied in the ropes. Bull’s Angelito… with a DRAGON SLEEPER attached! Jesus, Manami’s rubber spine makes moves like that look lethal. Manami comes out of a corner whip with a huge dropkick and fires off two more, then Kyoko gets nine revolutions on a Giant Swing and actually pulls off a SURFBOARD. Bull finally kills her with a lariat to escape and Sakie blasts away and hits Rolling Butterfly Suplexes for two.

Sakie stays on her, but Kyoko hits a huge DDT out of the corner, and Manami’s flying splash gets two. Sakie bulldogs out and Bull hits a dragon sleeper and pulls out the NUNCHUCKS for a beating, then lariats the back of her head and we see blood all over Manami’s mouth. But she still hits the Manami Roll on Sakie for two! Kyoko misses the Backsplash on Sakie, but hits it on both opponents with the second try, then tries the Niagara Driver but eats Savate Kick Spam for two. Kyoko catches her with an overhead belly-to-belly Superduperplex for two, and a Rolling Cradle gets two for Manami. She dropkicks Bull off the top, then does a Running No-Hands move, tripping over the top rope and kinda missing. Moonsault on Sakie gets two, and she reverses Bull’s powerbomb for the same. Kyoko lariats Bull, but she lariats Kyoko AND Manami out, and a tope suicida hits! Lariat on Kyoko for two, and she goes for a DOUBLE Guillotine Legdrop on both, but tragically misses and Kyoko headscissors her for two. Double lariat and Bull hits a powerbomb on Kyoko for two. Sakie hits three Uranages in a row for a close one- she misses a sloppy Savate Kick and Kyoko goes for the Run-Up Flying Back Elbow, but Bull lariats her when she hops up to the corner! Manami finally deals with Bull outside so Kyoko can reverse an Uranage and get her Elbow for another close call, then the Niagara Driver finishes at (19:55).

Oh man, now THIS is how you show “Big Match Effort”- doing great spots right out of the gate, selling your ass off for EVERYTHING, making the submissions look cool instead of just sitting on someone’s ass while bending their leg, and more. Insane pace and a lot of great, inventive spots and reversals. Manami’s move application and timing suffered near the end (possibly because she got mashed in the face- she was still selling her nose later), but then you get Bull trying a Double Guillotine, Sakie spamming out finishers because she’s still more “effort” than “skill” at this point, and repeated shots and finishing moves. The only thing holding it back from “Major Classic” is that Manami & Bull started getting less and less relevant as things went on, preventing even more nutty finishers. So we get another great match featuring Sakie, who gets to hang with major stars before eating the finisher at the end.

Rating: ****1/4 (totally a great “missed match” that should be more famous, though it had move application issues at points)

* Another interesting one! Kandori is the most credible person in Joshi at this point, and the Ace of LLPW, but Harley often jobs in these situations- Hotta & Yamada also both have cred as elite Kick Demons, enough that Kandori will probably give them a modicum of respect. Kandori rarely jobs in these situations, but Harley might… Kandori’s in one of those ugly LLPW singlets (black with yellow lines), but Harley’s has to be seen to be believed- purple pants with green leggings, and a purple-fronted, black-backed shirt with puffy white sleeves and a belt sash. Hotta’s in red & black, and Yamada’s in white & silver- very similar gear.

Team LLPW attacks as soon as Team AJW gets on the apron, brawling with them outside and really putting over the company rivalry. Yamada & Harley barely do anything before Kandori’s in for a huge reaction, doing the perfect Arrogant Heel Smirk. She snags a Swinging Sleeper right out of the gate, then tries a pin with one foot, easily outgrappling Yamada. Harley eats the face kick and Hotta comes in, stuffing her and they do the Camel Clutch/Face Kick spot twice over. Harley gets booted to Kandori and Yamada just UNLOADS on her with kicks, dropping the judoka, who acts stunned and staggered by the assault. Snap Suplex & Stump Puller! Kandori just headbutts her to come back, doing disrespectful boot-wipes- Hotta & Kandori now have a square-off, with Hotta flooring her with elbows and hitting the Rolling Kicks. Poor Harley has to hit THREE roundhouse kicks to put Hotta down for only a one-count, and an enzuigiri drops her. Hotta’s elbow off the second rope gets two.

Harley catches Yamada with a superplex, enzuigiri & German for two counts, and they sandwich Yamada’s head with kicks, and she has to German out to save herself. She starts Enzuigiri Spam, but Kandori catches the foot on the second one- Yamada just SCRAMBLES to the ropes in desperation, and Kandori has to stop to lariat Hotta. Yamada lands a spinkick for two and climbs, Hotta saving her from a superplex so she can hit a great flying elbow smash for two- she aims for the Reverse Gory Bomb, but Kandori simply powers out into a RELEASE electric chair drop, Yamada taking a sick bump onto her head. Hotta saves Yamada like three times, but nearly gets her arm amputated- she kicks Harley coming off the top and a Backdrop Driver gets two. Top-rope moves are reversed for both and a Tiger Driver gets a close two, and the Caribbean Splash (Straightjacket Superplex) folds Harley over, but still only gets two! Yamada’s rolled up out of the Gory Bomb for two, but gets a backdrop & Flying Enzuigiri for two- Kandori saves this one and sets up a pescado from Harley onto both opponents. Flying Headbutt gets two. Tiger Suplex, saved by Hotta. Everyone brawls dead-center, but Hotta just pushes Kandori up in the corner to allow Yamada to FINALLY nail her finisher, and the Reverse Gory Bomb splats Harley (way into her own corner, where she coulda grabbed the ropes) for the three at (16:56).

Interesting match that stayed in the “good” zone and never left it, being oddly set up as Kandori/Yamada with the other two just kinda being there to give them breaks. Harley did almost NOTHING, while Hotta acted like the “Elder Savior” repeatedly preventing Yamada from being killed and acting like she’s on Kandori’s level. This resulted in Yamada looking like she was way outclassed and fighting out of her league, which is probably deliberate. And then we get the ending sequence, which is largely Team AJW teeing off on Harley, doing a dozen finisher-tier moves in a row and not giving her squat. She barely got a single kick on Hotta to reverse before they just dealt with Kandori to leave her vulnerable. Seems like kind of a shame, as she’s as good as Hotta but given zero credibility. But this ultimately felt like it was setting up a future Kandori/Yamada contest (and they scrapped all the way to friggin’ Big Egg later in the year!).

Rating: ***1/4 (some good stuff and fun spots, but never quite entered a “Final Gear” that wasn’t just the elites murdering poor Harley Saito)

Match Results:
Chaparrita ASARI vs. Rie Tamada: *
Minami/Tomoko vs. Takako/Ito: **
Mima Shimoda vs. Miki Handa: ***1/2
Etsuko Mita vs. Eagle Sawai: **1/2
Bull/Sakie vs. Manami/Kyoko: ****1/4
Hotta/Yamada vs. Kandori/Harley: ***1/4
-This was actually looking like a pretty weak-ass show at first, but good performances by Shimoda and the sub-main tag bout really saved the day. Only three matches above *** is pretty weak for an AJW show, and most of the women seemed like they were in “House Show Effort”- outside of the ****1/4 tag, I really only “felt it” from Harley, Yamada, Shimoda & Handa. Everyone else was like “Nahhhhh this isn’t a big crowd” and had that dreaded “Okay we gotta fill 16-19 minutes each here…” effect.